Sunday, 1 July 2012


Gideon was a man in a small family of a small clan. Nobody thought highly of him, except maybe mom and dad. In his day the Midianites had invaded and had so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to God [Judges 6: 6]. And God showed up. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." Then Gideon made an offering of a goat and unleavened bread on a rock. Fire from the rock consumed the offering and the Angel disappeared.

God came to him again and instructed him, "Take the second bull from your father's herd, which is 7 years old. Tear down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole. Build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God. Using the wood of  the Asherah pole that you cut down offer the second bull as a burnt offering." Wait a minute. The altar belonged to Gideon's father! Gideon's father is leading Baal worship! I checked the King James version and it is there also.What a choice to lead Israel against the Midianites.

Gideon took ten servants and did what the Lord commanded - at night when his father was asleep. Now the men of the town noticed the new altar and offering and the broken old altar. They wanted to know who was responsible. Well, as soon as they discovered it was Gideon, they were angry. The son of the priest of Baal had destroyed his father's altar and Asherah pole! They felt betrayed. They demanded that Gideon be killed.

Now Gideon's father had to choose between his son and his altar. Well, since Baal was not really god, it was not really a hard choice. He chose Gideon. But then he had to calm the anger of the mob. He said, "Are you pleading Baal's cause? [Judges 6:31]" In other words it was Baal who was insulted and humiliated. Surely he is strong enough to respond. This statement came from the priest of Baal so it looked like faith. Nobody could answer. So they said, "Let Baal contend with him".  It is up to Baal to punish Gideon. Since Baal was not god nothing happened and everybody understood it was time to worship the real God. Gideon's generation and his father's generation were now united.

One has to ask why these town people were so easily persuaded to leave Gideon to Baal. Well, they remembered the trouble Pharaoh had with a stuttering shepherd from the backside of the desert named Moses. He came to Egypt with his brother Aaron and went to Pharaoh to tell him to let God's people go. Remember his haughty arrogant reply. I don't know this God. Rulers were typically not impressed with the gods worshipped by their slaves. After all, if their god was so powerful, they would not be slaves!

But Yahweh was different. Ten plagues followed; each one prophesied by Moses. God cannot only punish without hindrance but tells you in advance of the punishment. Not only that but each plague came through something that the Egyptians considered as god. Frogs were gods; the Nile was god; gnats were gods. It seemed like the gods of Egypt were turning against Pharaoh, who was a god himself. Then God parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites left free. Pharaoh and his army followed and were drowned. God's vengeance on Pharaoh was finished, complete and total. Whose vengeance is better: yours or His?

The lesson here is that God knows how to take care of His enemies. Using your anger to take care of God's enemies (or worse your enemies) is a snare of Satan to lock you into a vicious cycle of hatred and violence. If you let your enemy go and God does not punish him it is God showing His mercy. This mercy glorifies God and his goodness provided you do not rob Him of the opportunity. If God does punish him you will know your enemy refused God's mercy. You win both ways. Vengeance is for losers. Put it down.

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